For seemingly the millionth time in the last few years, I heard someone say, “Well, in this economy I’ve got to watch every penny.” I’ve heard so many variants on this thought these past few years. “In this economy, we have to cut our food budget.” “In this economy, I just can’t afford to eat out.” “In this economy, I just don’t have money to waste.” “With the economy the way it is, I’ve got to slash my bills and drop some services.” At first all the, “In this economy” talk didn’t bug me. But the more I’ve heard it and thought about it, I find myself growing more and more annoyed by it.
I’ve found that when people pull out the, “In this economy” line, they’re generally lamenting the loss of something they probably shouldn’t have been doing in the first place. When they say they can’t eat out all the time anymore, I question whether they should have been eating out all the time when times were good. When they say they have to watch every penny, I wonder why they weren’t watching their money when the good times were rolling. When they say they can’t afford to upgrade their house or car like they used to, I wonder if they really should have been buying new cars and houses so often, anyway. When they start talking about dropping services and slashing bills, I wonder why they let them get so inflated in better times.
Now, I understand that some people have lost their jobs, “In this economy” and that’s different. For them, this economy has not only curtailed their “fun” spending, it’s mortally wounded their necessary spending, as well. But many people that I see uttering the “In this economy line” have not lost jobs or endured other hardships like medical bills. They’ve just, for whatever reason, come to the conclusion that they cannot keep spending as they did before. Maybe their credit limits got slashed and they can’t qualify for more. Maybe they finally sat down and made a budget and saw on paper the damage they were inflicting on themselves. I don’t know. But suddenly the binge is over “In this economy” and it has people upset and mourning all the things that they suddenly cannot do.
What I see “In this economy” is the way things should have been all along. People shouldn’t have been spending every available cent and then some of their incomes, even when times were good. They shouldn’t have been eating out, doing expensive home remodels, buying gadgets and new clothes every week, and generally wasting money. Whether times are good or bad, the principles of sound financial management remain the same: Spend less than you earn and save for emergencies and retirement.
You don’t achieve financial success by blowing all your money when good times and then trying to save like mad in the bad times. You achieve success over a lifetime of smart decisions and careful money management. Financially successful people are always seeking ways to get the most for their money. They’re always looking for ways to trim expenses. They’re always saving and investing. For them, it doesn’t matter whether the economy is good or bad. There is no “In this economy.” They think in terms of “In this lifetime.”
You’ll find that most financially successful people don’t substantially increase or decrease their spending based on the economy. Instead, they keep things at a sustainable level year in and year out, good times and bad. As a result, they don’t suffer these periods of intense elation and depression that others do. When the economy tanks, they don’t mourn the loss of their lifestyle because they never let it get too inflated to begin with.
The way things are now “In this economy” are closer to normal than they have been for years. A lot of people who played hard during the boom don’t like it, but it’s the way it is. Unless you have a very large income, you always have to make careful choices about your spending and that doesn’t include living on credit in the good times and then moaning about the bad economy when the credit dries up. You have to watch your expenses, avoid “lifestyle creep,” save for the future, and get the most for your money wherever you can. You should live in such a way that you only find yourself saying, “In this economy I have to get the most for my money,” if you mean it in good times and bad.
(Photo courtesy of opensourceway)